When Color Goes Nuts – the fix

4677D-0087JM custom white compare

When Color Goes Nuts – the fix

One of the least used tools in your camera is the White Balance. It’s in different menus but is usually called Custom White Balance. Your camera has several settings for common situations, Daylight, tungsten, florescent, flash and often color temperature where you can dial the temperature right in. The problem is they are average solutions. Each of those settings are for a common Kelvin colour temperature. This is pretty close for most situations you might find yourself in.

The Custom White Balance needs a tool to work with though. A grey card or something similar. In the sample images here I have used the ExpoDisc. It’s quick; you cover the lens, aim it at the light source take an out of focus shot. Be sure you fill the frame. You can us  grey cards too, even a white card. (link to this)

From the menu select custom white balance. You can often create 3 settings. With the three settings you can rapidly change your white balance on the fly. Very handy if you are using gels.
So that is the how, When you radically change the color of one light source, you will radically alter any other different colour temperature light sources.

For example, in the water set shoot, our main lights had very strong tungsten colour temperature gels over them. I custom colour balanced to those lights. We had back lights setup with blue, magenta, red and purple gels. The overhead light was set to daylight temperature. Setting the colour temperature to the tungsten gel, intensified those colours as well as shifting them to a cooler colour. So we got richer blues, more intense reds and purples.


Even in normal lighting this approach gives you very exact colour. With exact colour comes wonderful colour separation. The huge benefit is in the skin tones. Skin tones exist on a very narrow band of the colour spectrum so a little off has a huge impact.

When you have several lights in the same area, mixing it up to create a whole new spot on the light spectrum, this is the perfect approach. You will see some odd shifts in the shadows but the main light will be nice and pure.

Oh, just remember to switch your setting back, it’s a real shock if you don’t.

In the samples here you can see how strong the tungsten gel was. The back light has  a very mild blue filter (except where it’s obviously a different colour) while the overhead light has no filter but is daylight calibrated. After the white balance correction you can see the difference.

4677D-0123JM custom color compare

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